Posts Tagged: "Trade Secrets"

Year End Review: Insiders Reflect on the Biggest Copyright and Trade Secret Moments of 2016

It is one again time to take a moment to look back on the year that was, reflecting on the biggest, most impactful moments of 2016. For us that means looking backward at the most impactful events in the world of intellectual property. This year we received such a good response from our panel of experts that we decided to break this column into two…

How the New Trade Secrets Law May Affect You

Earlier this year, President Obama signed into law the new federal “Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.” It arms with substantial new weaponry those whose trade secrets have been taken. What has been less heralded, but might just affect you more directly, are new requirements that might lead you to revise your standard confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.

Your Secret Sauce is at Risk from Attack

In July, Kilpatrick Townsend and Ponemon Institute released their findings from The Cybersecurity Risk to Knowledge Assets study, which confirmed most companies’ worst fears — their intellectual property is at risk every day, and theft is rampant. The 600 survey respondents also disclosed that most companies are unsophisticated when it comes to identifying their key intellectual property (particularly trade secrets) and protecting that adequately. And, most surprisingly, the expected costs associated with loss of these important assets was estimated by nearly seven out of ten respondents to total more than $100 million.

Purolite brings trade secret misappropriation suit against Hitachi, includes DTSA claim

American water treatment company Purolite of Bala Cynwyd, PA, recently filed a federal complaint over misappropriated trade secrets against the American division of Japanese conglomerate Hitachi (TYO:6501). Purolite alleges that Hitachi broke business agreements by sharing Purolite’s confidential trade secrets related to the decontamination of water including radioactive waste with other companies in the hopes of securing a major contract. Purolite filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y.).

IP Strategies for Digital Health Products and Services: What Can You Protect in a Data-Driven World?

Disruptive innovation, like what we are seeing in the health care industry, often causes disruption elsewhere, and the legal landscape is no exception. The life cycle of digital health products and services — from conception to promotion — presents a unique set of legal challenges, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the matrix of issues facing these products. As a lawyer, these are the kind of projects that remind us of law school exams — lots of issues and, often, no clearly defined answers or solutions… This article explores some of those tools and why one might choose to pursue one or, in the more probable case, some combination of them.

FTC and DOJ Antitrust Division Seek Comment on Proposed Update to IP Licensing Guidelines

The IP Licensing Guidelines, which state the agencies’ antitrust enforcement policy with respect to the licensing of intellectual property protected by patent, copyright, and trade secret law and of know-how, were issued in 1995 and are now being updated. In the agencies’ view, the IP Licensing Guidelines remain soundly grounded, as a matter of antitrust law and economics. Nevertheless, the agencies have determined that some revisions are in order because the IP Licensing Guidelines should accurately reflect intervening changes in statutory and case law.

Available Remedies under the DTSA

The DTSA amends the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (“EEA”) to provide for civil remedies in federal courts for the misappropriation of trade secrets. The new Section 1836(b) provides for both equitable and monetary relief. Subsection 1836(b)(3) authorizes a federal court to grant an injunction to prevent actual or threatened misappropriation of trade secrets. The language is identical to § 2 of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”). However, there are a number of limitations as to when a court may issue an injunction under the DTSA. First, the injunction may not “(I) prevent a person from entering into an employment relationship, and that conditions placed on such employment shall be based on evidence of threatened misappropriation and not merely on the information the person knows ….” Section 1836(b)(3)(A)(i)(I).

James Pooley Joins Orrick in Silicon Valley Office

Orrick announced that James Pooley, a world-renowned intellectual property lawyer and authority in the area of trade secrets law, has joined the firm as senior counsel. He will be based in the Silicon Valley office. As a pioneer in intellectual property law for more than three decades, Jim adds to Orrick’s top-ranking IP bench a seasoned first-chair trial lawyer, scholar, author and global diplomat. In April, he was the only American to be inducted this year into the IP Hall of Fame. Jim’s leadership in the IP bar included a five-year term as Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, where he served as the senior American officer and managed the international patent system.

Handle with Care: Civil Seizure Under the Defend Trade Secrets Act

The DTSA’s provision for civil seizures provides victims of trade secret theft with a powerful remedy to prevent further dissemination of the trade secret and limit further harm. However, Congress balanced this powerful tool with severe consequences for those movants who misuse it. When seeking to use this remedy, victims of trade secret theft must be careful to comply with all the detailed requirements or they may be far worse off than before. It is a powerful weapon, but like most powerful weapons, it must be handled with great care lest it cause serious self-inflicted injury.

Strategies for Complying with the Notice Provisions of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016

At present, there is no statutory penalty for not providing the required Notice. However, if an employer fails to provide the required Notice, the employer cannot recover punitive damages or attorneys’ fees under the DTSA from an employee to whom the required Notice was not provided. (The employer could nevertheless obtain such punitive damages and attorneys’ fees under state law in nearly every state.) There may also be adverse consequences from a contractual perspective, or in a government audit, if the required Notice is not provided.

Misappropriation of a Trade Secret Under the DTSA

The DTSA amends the definition of misappropriation from what was found in the EEA to bring the definition more in line with that of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) that has been adopted by almost all U.S. states. Indeed, apart of explicitly recognizing certain potential defenses that are discussed in the commentary of the UTSA, the DTSA is identical to the UTSA. According to the House Report, “The Committee intentionally used this established definition to make clear that this Act is not intended to alter the balance of current trade secret law or alter specific court decisions.” House of Representatives, Report No. 114-529, April 26, 2016, at 14. Federal courts therefore, will look to state decisions involving the state’s version of the UTSA for guidance.

The Business of IP: Choosing Between Patents and Trade Secrets

In the field of Intellectual Property (IP) attorneys have options when counseling clients on how to protect their IP. However, these options remain subject to constant forces of change. For example, IPWatchdog readers will remember the latest version of the PATENT Act that the U.S. Senate worked on for months in 2015, which proponents say would strengthen enforceability of U.S. patents, but not as much as some would prefer. Then in 2016, the IP landscape changed again with the passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DSTA) that President Barack Obama later signed into law, which federalizes civil actions in trade secret disputes.

Knocking out the knockoffs: IP learnings from a successful TRO and seizure

Protecting intellectual property today is more challenging than ever, and the stakes are high. An open and rapid-fire exchange of information has become the norm in our digital age. Add the global nature of the market and persistent technological advancements, and it should come as no surprise that imitators stand ready to capitalize on the latest breakthroughs. As their low-cost, low-quality products flood a market, not only do they claim valuable market share, but they have potential to erode the credibility of an entire category and its leaders. Any company that produces a product must consider the prospect of knockoffs, and the potential impact imitations will have on market share and brand perceptions. Obtaining IP protection directed at mitigating knockoffs can be highly beneficial, particularly for start-ups that may have limited resources and brand awareness.

Definition of a ‘Trade Secret’ Under the DTSA

In general, the form of the information qualifying as a trade secret under the DTSA is extremely broad, and includes information of any form, regardless of “how stored, compiled, or memorialized physically, electronically, graphically, photographically, or in writing,” and of any type, “financial, business, scientific, technical, economic, or engineering information,” so long as: (1) the information is actually secret, because it is neither known to, nor readily ascertainable by, another person who can obtain economic value from the disclosure or use of the information; (2) the owner has taken “reasonable measures” to maintain the secrecy; and (3) independent economic value is derived from that secrecy.[i] By comparison the UTSA identifies, by way of example, eight specific types of trade secret information; “formula, pattern compilation, program device, method, technique or process.” The DTSA, unlike the UTSA, also provides that information “stored” only in an individual’s memory can be the subject of a civil claim for theft of trade secrets.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 Creates Federal Jurisdiction for Trade Secret Litigation

There is now federal jurisdiction for trade secret theft. The DTSA creates a federal cause of action for trade secret misappropriation that largely mirrors the current state of the law under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which has been adopted by 48 states. The DTSA uses a similar definition of trade secrets, and a three-year statute of limitations, and it authorizes remedies similar to those found in current state laws. The DTSA will not preempt existing state law, which will preserve and afford plaintiffs’ options in regards to whether to file federal or state claims and which court to select.


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